Writing – appreciating the freedom

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I started my translation career in 2004. I enjoy translating. I always wanted to be a translator, so I guess I am doing my dream job. I always wanted to be a writer too though, and started writing professionally eight years ago.

After a couple of years of translating, I was yearning to write something of my own. Yes, translation is writing, but it is restricted writing. I do commercial translation, not literary translation, so most times, the translation has to be faithful to the original, both in style and content.

I was aware that, even though I was writing, I was writing someone else’s words and thoughts. I was following their thought processes, using their vocabulary and phrasing. I didn’t feel like any of it was my own.

When I started writing as a career (graded readers for learners of English), I felt I had more freedom, but again, I was restricted. This time, it was by vocabulary and grammar, which was graded to suit the level of English learners.

I felt complete freedom when I wrote my first novel In the Shadows of Mountains. At first, this freedom was almost Sartrean. I felt uneasy, not scared, but a bit, well, kind of seasick. I could write anything. There was nothing stopping me – no one else’s ideas and words to follow, no vocabulary or grammar restrictions. It was just me, and the blank page. And whatever I wrote, I was responsible for it. As I progressed through the novel, I felt this uneasiness lifting, and I felt like I was soaring. After so long writing other people’s words, and following strict grammar and vocabulary guidelines, I was discovering my own voice. And it felt great. I can’t wait to write my next one.